Objective: To perform a meta-analysis of high-quality published trials, randomized and observational, comparing laparoscopic distal gastrectomy (LDG) and open distal gastrectomy (ODG) for gastric cancer.
Background: Controversy persists about the clinical utility of minimally invasive techniques for the treatment of gastric cancer. Prospective data is limited to a few small randomized trails.
Methods: : Studies published from January 1992 to March 2010 that compare LDG and ODG were identified. No restrictions in pathologic stage were applied. All randomized controlled trials (RCTs) were included. Selection of high-quality, nonrandomized comparative studies (NRCTs) was based on a validated tool (Methodological Index for Nonrandomized Studies). Mortality, complications, harvested lymph nodes, operative time, blood loss, and hospital stay were compared using weighted mean differences (WMDs) and odds ratios (ORs).
Results: Twenty-five studies were included in the analyses, 6 RCTs and 19 NRCTs, compromising 3055 patients (1658 LDG, 1397 ODG). LDG was associated with longer operative times (WMD 48.3 minutes; P < 0.001) and lower overall complications (OR 0.59; P < 0.001), medical complications (OR 0.49; P = 0.002), minor surgical complications (OR 0.62; P = 0.001), estimated blood loss (WMD -118.9 mL; P < 0.001), and hospital stay (WMD -3.6 days; P < 0.001). Mortality and major complications were similar. Patients in the ODG group had a significantly higher number of lymph nodes harvested (WMD 3.9 nodes; P < 0.001), although the estimated proportion of patients with less than 15 retrieved nodes was similar (OR 1.26, P = 0.09).
Conclusions: LDG can be performed safely with a shorter hospital stay and fewer complications than open surgery. The long-term significance of a difference of less than 5 nodes in the number of harvested lymph nodes remains unclear. Lymph node staging appears to be unaffected. These results need to be validated in Western patients with advanced gastric cancer.